Maryland’s Court of Appeals unanimously agreed at an emergency meeting Tuesday to restore the names of police officers deleted from the online case search data base.
The judges conceded the deletions were a mistake and Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera took responsibility for the error in opening statements to a cramped conference room. Barbera said it was an honest mistake and that the deletion was part of an amendment that went unnoticed until the case search changes were implemented.
Amy Petkovsek an attorney with Maryland legal aid said the consequences of this error affected low income clients the most.
Low income clients have the basic human right to have the same access to justice as everybody else does.”
Sunny Desai also with Maryland Legal Aid was surprised by the court’s quick decision-making.
“As you may expect with attorneys we’re always ready for a fight. And generally speaking these kinds of rules don’t get reversed at all so.”
Desai and Petkovsek provide free legal aid to those who need their records expunged. They testified that the deletion of officer’s names from case searches slowed down the process and effected their clients’ ability to find work.
During the federal Gun Trace Taskforce trials the case search database helped identify indicted officers. Tiana Boardman, a senior at University of Maryland studying criminal justice, testified that the case search database helped her gather accurate and complete information for her research papers.
Duane Davis, also known as 'Shorty' and a former-prison inmate turned community activist, testified that the "community has the right to know who officers are in [case searches]."
Barbera says the names of the officers are expected to be replaced by Friday.